Founders Ping Lu, Dominik Guber and Wolfgang Westermeier
“We wanted to revolutionize homebrewing”
The three students landed spots on the three-semester programme and met each other. In their free time they regularly went for after-work-beers in order to talk about their ideas and projects. The fact that they were always limited to a relatively small repertoire of tastes with regards to the beers available gave the three beer lovers the idea to brew their own. The enthusiasm for their own subject area, which Wolfgang Westermeier was able to see in many professors and tutors at university, was always very inspiring for him. “Naturally this was motivating to find something for yourself that is similarly exciting. For us it was the intention to revolutionize homebrewing.”
TURNING A HOBBY INTO A START-UP
This idea turned into a hobby, which transformed the flat-share kitchen into a brewing lab. Uncountable recipes and elaborate brewing methods were tested and eventually discarded. The young team’s goal was to not only playfully increase the diversity of beers but also to significantly simplify homebrewing itself. “We started to completely reinvent the homebrewing process”, Ping Lu recalls. It was meant to become simple, quick and uncomplicated.
After six months of puzzling, calculating and experimenting the young team was able to brew it’s first beer under the new concept – directly in the keg and within just one week. This way the complicated cleaning and bottling of conventional brewing kits could be avoided. In cooperation with two diploma master brewers of TUM the taste was fine-tuned as a final step. A wide variety of yeasts, hops and malts were tested and numerous new formulas and beer types with natural flavours from American oak, grapefruit, mango and passion fruit to honey and lemon were customized.
TUM OFFERS A KEY TO SUCCESS
The three young entrepreneurs agree on the fact that the Manage & More programme significantly helped them in developing the idea and setting up the business. “The workshops and start-up support gave us the entrepreneurial tools of trade, and the events gave us the opportunity to present our prototypes”, Wolfgang Westermeier says in retrospect. “The programme also allowed us to build a large network and make contacts with business angels.” But also outside the Centre for Business Creation there are numerous experts at TUM who support young entrepreneurs. “We received technical advice from the Research Centre for Brewing and Food Quality”, says Ping Lu. “TUM’s entire infrastructure made starting a business for us noticeably easier – and might even have made it possible in the first place.”
In return for this support the three founders want to give back to their alma mater and at the same time inspire young students and entrepreneurs. They regularly participate in the TUM events and pass on their knowledge to the younger generations, speak about their business history, the support through the Centre for Business Creation and how to combine studying with starting a business. Today what the three young entrepreneurs tell the young students and entrepreneurs is what helped them make it themselves. They encourage them to be curious, brave and try different things and, most of all, to enjoy the ride. “And once you found something that you enjoy and that you are passionate about”, Dominik Guber says: “Give it your all!”
Ping Lu, Dominik Guber and Wolfgang Westermeier
Bachelor Mathematics 2011, Bachelor Mechanical Engineering 2014 and Master Agricultural Sciences 2014
Having finished his bachelor’s thesis in Mathematics at TUM, Ping Lu attended lectures of the master’s degrees Mathematics and Business Administration for Natural Scientists until 2014. Dominik Guber is a trained IT specialist and completed his studies with a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering at TUM in 2014. After an apprenticeship in IT Management in 2009 and the bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2011, Wolfgang Westermeier also finished his studies at TUM with a master’s in Agricultural Sciences.
After Ping Lu, Dominik Guber and Wolfgang Westermeier had gone through the Manage & More programme at TUM’s Centre for Innovation and Business Creation they set up their company Customized Drinks GmbH in 2012. Here Ping Lu is in charge of IT, marketing and logistics, Dominik Guber for sales, investor relations and business development, and Wolfgang Westermeier deals with production, product development, procurement and public relations. In just under six years the young entrepreneurs have developed three do-it-yourself-sets in the beverage sector and achieve multi million sales volumes on the German, European, Chinese and now also the US American market. As one of the three best start-ups the company was nominated for the German Start-up Award in 2015. With its product Brewbarrel it was one of three finalists for the TUM Presidential Entrepreneurship Award in 2018.